I have been trying to make sense of the recent Presidential election amidst the cheering on one side and the second guessing on the other side and I was not getting a resolution. Too much raw data and opinion and nothing that actually explained what had happened.
I think the confusion comes from the fact that I was looking for a political analysis when the election was actually a marketing success and can be explained in terms of marketing and branding strategies which are more basic and are more easily understood.
I read these 15 words on Linda Popky’s Marketing Leverage Blog and it opened the door to a new understanding of what happened in this election.
…in a very short time, Obama built a strong, powerful personal brand–basically from scratch.
Forget ideology, transparency, media bias, associations, etc. Obama came up with a better way to present a coherent promise of value to voters that resonated with them. That is what a brand is and does.
While party stalwarts on both sides were working on the mechanics of getting out voters, calling in favors, and attacking weak points of opponents, Obama did what was necessary to create a personal brand that was sufficient to overcome criticism during the campaign.
A brand is an identifying symbol, words, or mark that distinguishes a product or company from its competitors.
Sufficient to say that Barack Obama and his advisors did an outstanding job of this and it won the election.
There is another side to this powerful concept of branding and that is the basis for its power.
A brand is a promise of value to customers, and it sets a certain expectation.
A successful brand launch is a wonderful thing, but there is a Sword of Damocles hanging over any brand which will fall when the brand fails to deliver what is promised.
Barack Obama’s expansive brand of "Hope" and "Change" offer a wide variety of futures depending on the expectations of the voters. As a result, he may have created a set of conflicting expectations which he may have difficulty reconciling.
To use an automotive metaphor, I would like to hope that his brand of hope and change will result in a "Mustang" future instead of a "Yugo".
We shall see.
Read more lessons to be learned from Obama’s victory after the jump. I have linked to articles on this election by Jack and Suzy Welsh and Linda Popky. They are well worth your time.
Barack Obama’s Victory: Three Lessons for Business by Jack and Suzy Welch
The Illinois senator built his decisive win on three leadership principles:
* Start with a clear, consistent vision.
* Execute well.
* Have friends in high places.
This column is not about ideology. The election is over. And while we believe John McCain is a great American whose economic platform made better sense for business, especially in terms of free trade, tax policy, and job creation, we look forward with hope to the Presidency of Barack Obama. If his is an America for all people, as he has so passionately promised, then surely it will also serve the interests of the millions of hard-working small-business owners and entrepreneurs who are so much a part of this country’s strength and future.
Brand Obama: How Barack Obama Really Won the Presidency
by Linda Popky
While I agree that all three of these are true, they’ve missed something critical: in a very short time, Obama built a strong, powerful personal brand–basically from scratch.
In the early days, the candidates were often defined by their demographics (female, African-American, Mormon, ex-POW, divorced Catholic, etc.). But as time went on, it became clear that Barack Obama had done a tremendous job building a strong brand, based on change, hope, inclusion and making a difference for America. He did this using a combination of grass roots efforts, traditional media, and an outstanding use of new media, from websites and blogs to Facebook, MySpace and Twitter, from personalized donation emails to brightly colored logowear that was hot and hard to find.
This marketing view of the election explains to me why some of us had such different impressions of Obama after hearing the same speech. A brand message will not resonate with those who have had bad experience with similar brand messages in the past. We hear the message, but we discount it based on negative experiences. Someone with no knowledge of history can only go on what they hear and read about the product or candidate.
Time will tell whether Obama will deliver on his promises or not. For the good of the nation, I hope that he does deliver in a way that we can look forward to better times.
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